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Open AccessArticle

The Groundwater‒Energy‒Food Nexus in Iran’s Agricultural Sector: Implications for Water Security

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Department of Civil Engineering, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran 1477893855, Iran
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Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, Oklahoma State University, 111 Agricultural Hall, Stillwater, OK 74078, USA
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The Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520, USA
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Department of Physical Geography, Stockholm University, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
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Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2019, 11(9), 1835; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11091835
Received: 6 August 2019 / Revised: 1 September 2019 / Accepted: 2 September 2019 / Published: 4 September 2019
This paper presents the first groundwater‒energy‒food (GEF) nexus study of Iran’s agronomic crops based on national and provincial datasets and firsthand estimates of agricultural groundwater withdrawal. We use agronomic crop production, water withdrawal, and energy consumption data to estimate groundwater withdrawal from electric-powered irrigation wells and examine agronomic productivity in Iran’s 31 provinces through the lens of GEF nexus. The ex-post GEF analysis sheds light on some of the root causes of the nation’s worsening water shortage problems. Access to highly subsidized water (surface water and groundwater) and energy has been the backbone of agricultural expansion policies in Iran, supporting employment in agrarian communities. Consequently, water use for agronomic crop production has greatly overshot the renewable water supply capacity of the country, making water bankruptcy a serious national security threat. Significant groundwater table decline across the country and increasing energy consumption underscore dysfunctional feedback relations between agricultural water and energy price and groundwater withdrawal in an inefficient agronomic sector. Thus, it is essential to implement holistic policy reforms aimed at reducing agricultural water consumption to alleviate the looming water bankruptcy threats, which can lead to the loss of numerous agricultural jobs in the years to come. View Full-Text
Keywords: food‒energy‒water nexus; agronomy; water management; sustainability; Iran food‒energy‒water nexus; agronomy; water management; sustainability; Iran
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Mirzaei, A.; Saghafian, B.; Mirchi, A.; Madani, K. The Groundwater‒Energy‒Food Nexus in Iran’s Agricultural Sector: Implications for Water Security. Water 2019, 11, 1835.

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